by Dr. Rug
What’s worse than watching the Pirates win the league title in August?
Having to listen to them chirp about it all winter long!!
I swear the doomsday profits have more believable arguments for the world ending in 2012 than some of the BS you heard coming from the mouths of the Pirates this past winter. The stars aligned, you won a title, congrats. That does not mean that you were the second coming of the ’27 Yankees or that you’re about to put together a Celtics-esque run of 11 straight titles. Heck, even the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals at 83-78 fluked their way to a World Series. That doesn’t mean they were the best team in the league that year (they were probably the 8th best team in the playoffs that year!!), it just means they got lucky at the right time.
So thank God the offseason is almost over and the 2012 YK Fastball season is about to begin. The chirping can stop and the arguments can be settled on the diamond instead of on the World Wide Web. Of course, the Web is where Dr. Rug makes his living so before this season officially begins allow me to throw my hat into the proverbial ring and offer up a little chirping of my own before we take the field.
To start things off let’s address the insanity that was the 2011 season. If ever there was a season that was completely, totally, 110% insane, it was last season. Take a look at the top 5 craziest things that occurred:
5. The top two batters in the league both hit over .600 with the leader almost hitting the .700 mark. They were… Garrett Hinchey and Ryan Thiel?
4. The Home Building Center Diamondbacks won the Territorials thanks to the pitching of… Bruce Waugh?
3. The league leader in home runs had 67% more dingers than second place. The runaway leader… John Whitford?
- And second place… Andy Stewart??? The guy that can barely throw the ball from center field to the cut-off man has enough power to be the second best Home Run hitter in the league?
2. The top RBI producer and the top 2 runs scored guys were all from… Sub-Arctic?
1. And of course, the league champions were… the Pirates?????
It’s almost enough to make you believe that maybe the Mayan predictions are correct and the world actually is going to end.
Let’s take a look at the absurdity of the individual statistical leaders before we examine the insanity that was the championship teams. A quick glimpse of the league leaders in the statistical categories listed on the website (Average, RBIs, Runs Scored, Home Runs) shows us the following names:
And a quick little analysis of the top overall hitters across all four categories shows the same 3 names at the top of the list with Whitford in 1st, Garrett in 2nd, and Rick in 3rd. Now I don’t know about you, but if I’m starting a team and I can choose from all the players in the league, none of these three is in my starting lineup. Heck, none of these three would even make it in my second lineup. I have nothing against any of them as people, they are all great guys. I just don’t think they belong at the top of any statistical categories in our league (with the possible exception of Ricky leading the league in steals… or Garrett leading the league in walks). It just goes to show you how small sample size and a little hot streak (not to mention Jimmy’s recordkeeping) can totally skew the stats in league like ours where the season is so short. Will these three silver sluggers be atop the standings once again this August? Don’t bet on it!!
In fact, if you are planning on placing a wager on any individual leaders this season here is a little bit of free advice from Dr. Rug on where to lay your money.
Home Run Leader: Ryan Heslep, Slades. An easy pick here, this guy has more power than a juiced up Bonds and with his work-out partner White-Belt Kondracki leaving town, he’s going to need to find a new outlet to relieve his frustrations. Look for Darcy’s rise ball to be that outlet.
RBI leader: Darin Strain, HBC Diamondbacks. A solidified top of the order for the Diamondbacks this summer should mean even more RBI opportunities for this catching legend. With Mike Auge returning to regular action and a key new addition to the top of the line-up (see ROY category) there should be plenty of ducks on the pond when Strainer steps to the box. If he can continue to pound the ball at an above .500 rate, he’ll run away with this category this season.
Steals leader: Joey Borkovic, Slades. Now that he’s finally shown Slades management that he’s ready to take the reins from first ballot hall-of-famer Andy Stewart in both Centerfield and the Leadoff spot, Borko will be wreaking havoc on the base paths all summer long.
Runs Scored: Rick Morrison, Sub-Arctic. Ok, I lied. There is one category where a repeat winner is a probability. Considering the fact the Ricky bats lead-off, plays every game, and always tries to stretch a single into a triple (even when down 8 runs), there is a solid chance that he is at or near the top of the list in runs scored again this season.
Rookie of the Year: Marcus Watt, HBC Diamondbacks. Despite the fact that there is a team composed almost entirely of rookies (the Slow Pokes), I’m looking elsewhere for my Rookie of the Year. The unknown Marcus Watt is making the jump straight from single A Saskatchewan directly to the majors and if Spring Training is any indication, he’ll handle the transition with ease. Look for him to fit comfortably into the top of HBC’s line-up and, along with co-worker Robbie Andrews, to set the table all year long for the big hitting heart of the order.
Cy Young: Mardie Graham, Sub-Arctic. I know, it’s somewhat ridiculous to pick a Cy Young winner from a team that hasn’t played a meaningful Sunday game in what seems like a decade. I’m still doing it. Rumour has it that the ageless one, Al Cardinal, may be hanging up his spikes (or at least pitching less than 200 innings this year) which means that it’s time for Mardie to step up, use the skill he’s been teasing his fans with for years, and become the top pitcher in town.
MVP: Mitch Madsen, Slades. Although his offseason routine still regularly consisted of poutine, beer and a side of poutine, Mitch actually showed up for Spring Training this season and as in the best preseason shape of his life entering the year. The hard work will pay-off big time as he finally manages to shake the “choke-artist” labels and return Slades to glory… at least temporarily.
And with that brilliant little piece of foreshadowing, let’s move right into the team previews and predicted finish for the 2012 regular season…
6th Place: Nexum/Carl’s Red Sox
I’m sure that they will be even more competitive this season than last and that they will burst out of the gates with a better start to the season than the expansion team. However, as the season drags on and the other teams round into form, I expect that the inexperience/too much experience level will show and the Red Sox will finish in the cellar once again.
5th Place: Slow Pokes
While they’re sure to struggle at the outset of the season, the veteran leadership of Paul Gard (not to mention his right arm) should help them overcome the early troubles. The talent is there for a lot of these players, they’re just lacking the experience. A couple of months of games along with a tournament or two should do wonders for their level of play and have them competing with the big boys in no time.
4th Place: FED Tile/Fire Prevention Pirates
It’s not that I expect last year’s champions to underachieve this year; it’s just that I do remember that they finished the regular season with just a .500 record last year behind both Sub-Arctic and Slades. With HBC no long relying on the questionable arm of Chris Kelln to carry them for long stretches this season, I expect that they too will finish the season above the defending champions. The Pirates may have more depth on the mound than anyone else in the league, but this is fastball, the pitchers don’t need 4 days rest after each start; I’d rather have one Justin Verlander than five Charlie Morton’s.
3rd Place: Sub-Arctic Surveyors
The two constants in the topsy-turvy world that is the YK Fastball league in recent years?
- The Surveyors will own the beer gardens on Sundays at tournaments.
- The Surveyors will finish in the middle of the standings at the end of the year.
I don’t expect too much to change this year in that regard.
Enjoy the beers boys!!
2nd Place: Home Building Center Diamondbacks
It was quite the wild ride last year for HBC where they finished below .500, relied on Chris Kelln to handle the pitching duties, added scrap pieces wherever they could, and somehow found a way to shock the world and win the Territorials. With a more favourable schedule, the return of some stability on the mound, and a couple of key new additions, I expect that this year’s version of the Diamondbacks will be more consistent on both sides of the ball. A Territorial repeat will be difficult, but they should at least finish the year with a better overall record than their 7-9-1 mark of 2011.
1st Place: Slades Mechanical
Another year, another president’s trophy for the Vancouver Canucks of Yellowknife Fastball. Led by their very own version of the Roberto Luongo, Ryan “The Abyss” Strain, the Slades squad should once again dominate the regular season before finding some sort of stumbling block in the playoffs. Perhaps things will change this season as Ryan has stepped down from his management post and handed the day-to-day operations over to Borko and Matty.
Then again, probably not.
There you have it folks, a little insight into what to expect from the always entertaining YK Fastball league. Be sure to come on down to the field on Monday for opening night whether your team is playing or not. The silver medalists from last season have been grinding their teeth all winter long waiting for a rematch with the Pirates and they’ll have their chance at 8pm.
See you there!!
Note: As always, if you’d like to voice your disagreement with Dr. Rug’s opinions, or if you’d like to praise him for his brilliance, or if you have a nagging question that you can’t seem to solve, he can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
 And even the St. Louis Cardinals at 83-78 had a better winning percentage than the Pirates.
 I assigned 10 points for first in each category, 9 for second, etc. down to 1 point for tenth and then added the totals up for all the players.
 My starting 9 (or 10 with a DP) would be C – Brad Mueller, 1B – Ryan Strain, 2B – Matt Simms, SS – Rob Andrews, 3B – Bruce Waugh, OF – Ryan Heslep, OF – Andy Stewart, OF – Joe Borkovic, P – Mitch Madsen, DP – Darin Strain.
 Ok, I might make room for Ricky on my bench just to get his OL out to all the games.
 I’m predicting a Slades Territorials victory… followed by a league finals collapse.
 I’ll save you the pain and agony of having to relive the Pirates 2011 title one more time and refrain from once again mentioning last year’s unbelievable playoffs.
 If you’re wondering where the nickname “The Abyss” came from, feel free to ask Rhino and I’m sure he’ll give you the full story.